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Regional Interests

City of Portland set to require its employees to be vaccinated

The election of Commissioner Dan Ryan means changes over a number of city agencies.
The election of Commissioner Dan Ryan means changes over a number of city agencies.

The City of Portland is now demanding all of its employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18 or face termination.

According to an email sent Monday afternoon, the city’s roughly 6,800 employees will have until Sept. 10 to submit proof they are fully vaccinated, in the process of becoming vaccinated, or apply for an exemption for medical or religious reasons.

“Employees who do not meet the Sept. 10 deadline will be put on a list for separation from employment, and have until Oct. 18 to either demonstrate they are fully vaccinated or complete the exception process,” the message says. “Separations will be effective Oct. 19.”

A draft of the announcement, first reported by the Oregonian/OregonLive, was shared with OPB Monday afternoon. A city spokeswoman declined to officially confirm the forthcoming policy until the City Council sent out an official email shortly before 2 p.m.

With the policy, Portland will become just the latest major city requiring public workers to receive jabs. San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City are among those that have already announced mandates. Many state employees, along with Multnomah County employees, are also required to be vaccinated. But city officials here suggested last month that they were not ready to implement such a measure.

With the delta variant continuing to sicken unvaccinated Oregonians at a worrying pace, that position has evidently changed. Oregon has repeatedly broken records for new daily cases and hospitalizations in recent days, with some counties requesting trucks to store dead bodies and the health care system risking overload.

“With COVID-19 filling hospitals and claiming lives, we must do everything within our power to end this pandemic and restore our community’s health,” the message says. “Today, we take an important step toward those goals.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler and the four city commissioners add in the email that they are “confident that this is the right decision for our workplace and our city.”

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting